Author Archive

Compression

September 22, 2009

Widget Layered

Upon arrival at the airport, you find yourself outside, in the open air, with plenty of open space around you as you unload your luggage and make your way inside the terminal. Initially you encounter the ticketing area, compared to the outdoors, you are now enclosed however, the extremely high ceilings and expansive open space to your left and right containing the seemingly never-ending row of ticketing counters and lines of passengers still possesses an open feel.

You have received your boarding pass, checked your luggage, and now you move beyond the ticketing hall into the concourse to begin the trek to your gate. You notice the scale of the airport has shifted once again. Now, as you walk the concourse, you feel more enclosure than before, the expansive ceiling height of the ticketing hall has been lowered and the walls have moved closer to you. With this scale shift, there are a greater number of passengers in your immediate surroundings causing you to begin to feel more compressed and tightened within your own skin.

Your gate is just ahead; you turn off of the concourse and settle into a seat you have located amongst the rows of monotonous black rows of airport seating. Here, in the gate area, the floor covering has changed to carpeting, a softer, more sound-absorbing material, and the ceiling height has yet again been lowered. These factors bring the gate area to a more intimate scale than that of the concourse…you are closer to those passengers who will also fly with you, if not sitting right next to them.

The time has come to board your flight, being herded down the jet bridge, you are uncomfortably close to your fellow passengers, guarding closely your bags and belongings. The tight, eight foot ceiling height and five foot wall to wall distance, creates the most enclosed space you have been in as of yet. As you board the plane and locate your seat, you settle in to two square feet of personal space, bounded by other passengers on either side, shoulder to shoulder.

The final step in this spatial decrescendo of scale brings you to the scale of the body. Now that you are seated in your seat, you bind your legs from calf to ankle as you sit in your seat. In an outfitting similar to the performance of a straight jacket, the constant shift in the scale of the space of the airport has finally concluded by physically binding to the individual. It’s as if the leg binding is a mere addition to the walls and spaces which have been slowly moving closer and closer to you as you move from your auto to your airplane.

Made of a soft, pliable, rubber membrane, the leg binding easily conforms to the shape of your lower legs. The series of strips, all joined together allow each strip to react to a different area of the leg, tailoring each to that specific site. As you remain seated, you experience the highest level of enclosure, one which renders you immobile. The leg binding mechanism capitalizes upon one of the most influential area of the body for, without the ability to move our lower legs, there is little the body can do to move itself. The system works to heighten the intense sensory experience of the airport and serve as its very literal conclusion.

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“Agreeable” Space

September 15, 2009

“What is more agreeable than one’s home?” These words of ancient Roman lawyer, writer, and statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero, echo back to my personal sentiments regarding the home, and more specifically, the locus of home activity, the living room. Although my residence has two levels, I prefer to spend the majority of my time on the lower level, as the space evokes feelings of comfort, warmth, and serenity.

            The intent of the space was to divide the open plan of the kitchen, dining, and living spaces using keen furniture placement and, in the end, to create an area within a larger whole which fostered conversation and social interaction within an intimate setting. The placement of the sofa on the diagonal creates a dynamic division between the living and dining spaces and also orients the focus of the living space onto the hearth, which holds similar connotations of warmth and family for most. This area is further highlighted by the artwork above the fireplace and the recessed spotlight which casts a warm light upon the wall hanging and fireplace. This is the brightest area in the room at 7 foot candles and, like the furniture placement, highlights the intended focus of the space. Additionally there is an overhead light which casts approximately 6.5 foot-candles in a warm, diffused manner. Around the perimeter there is very little light with readings at .5 and 1 foot-candles.

            The space uses deep oranges and browns against a palatte of neutrals, all accented by a vibrant avocado green in the vintage armchairs, window treatments, and accessories. This combination of colors brings a sophistication and warmth to the space while adding a bit of joviality with the addition of the green hues.

            The two windows and glass door transmit a very indirect, cool light from the exterior. Glaring sunlight does not pose a problem as the buildings u-shaped arrangement of the other units blocks the western sun and diffuses light through the large canopy of trees into the courtyard and consequently, into the living space of my residence. This soothing quality of evenly transmitted light works to lend an air of comfort to the space.

            During the day there is minimal sound from the roadway, again, diffused through the courtyard of trees and other residences. However, on the interior, when inhabiting the first floor, you can hear the activity of any occupants on the upper floor (walking across the floor, water flowing from a running shower through pipes, closet doors sliding open and closed) which has a very muffled quality when transferred through the floor. Personally I find this quality of the residence intriguing as the residence itself serves a register of activity.

            As far as representing the space, my initial sketches were skewed in as much as the space was represented as being taller than it actually is. Additionally, the furniture in the living area is more compact than I perceived from memory. This feeling of openness in the drawings could possibly be attributed to the fact that the space itself does not feel exclusive and constricting because it is part of the larger space of the lower floor which works to underscore a feeling of openness all the while, individual spatial groupings are arranged quite intimately, working to create as Cicero says, an “agreeable” home.

:: Power ::

September 8, 2009

McKnight_Jeff_04

           The desire to influence can be viewed as more than a mere state of mind. Such desire, has been attributed to CEOs, public officials, and the wealthy, among others. Those with such a driven disposition to espouse the desire of power, tend to surround themselves with objects which convey an image of success, control, and, most of all, power. The collection of these objects culminates into a powerful space, a space which underscores the owner’s desire for power and, many times, works to intimidate the visitor or bystander.

            The United Nations General Assembly Hall conveys many things through its architecture. Of them, size and power are strikingly clear. The hall, with a capacity over 1800, dwarfs the bystander and highlights the president and speaker. The three seats on the raised dais at the front of the room are given the backdrop of a golden, textured wall rising the full height of the space drawing attention to, and emphasizing those three seats and giving their occupants power. The occupants of those seats ensure order within the assembly, and foster the UN meetings, to place them with less of a background or lower them to the same plane the audience is on would be an injustice to their office position. Furthermore, not only does the room give power to the high ranking officials, it also gives power to the general assembly members by placing them, based upon country, closer to or further away from the front of the room. All in all, this strategic layout and architecture of the room both empower and emphasize the members of the UN depending on the position they take within the room.

            The concept of empowering a space’s occupant can quite interestingly be seen on a much smaller scale, a scale relevant to a single occupant. The interior of a luxury vehicle work at the scale of its owner. The vehicle envelops the occupant, wrapping all of the instruments around them. With a plush leather interior, rich accents, and highly developed ergonomics, the car creates a symbiosis between occupant and machine, placing the driver in complete control over the actions the car will take. The feel of riding upon an extremely powerful engine coupled with a well engineered chassis empowers the driver, giving them total control. Additionally, to the observer, the driver of an expensive luxury vehicle carries connotations of power, success, and drive.

            Regardless of scale, the space one surrounds them self in is integral to how they are perceived by others. Regardless of scale, the right space can underscore the power-driven occupant and highlight their standing and stature within a population.

Gossip Girl

September 1, 2009

Gossip GirlGossip Girl, the alluring television sitcom based upon a successful book series, centers around a group of privileged teens living in New York’s Upper East Side. With such a vibrant and ever moving city as the stage for the series,  allows insight into a world of riches, alliances, and betrayals. In the series, New York City is arguably the most integral character to the plot. The city provides the opportunity for the main characters to prematurely abandon their naiveté and innocence of adolescence and plunge themselves entirely into a high-brow social community replete with avarice, lies, underage drinking, and a continuous selection of parties and events to attend. The Upper East Side is bounded to the east by Central Park, to the west by the East River, and to the north and south, 59th and 96th streets, respectively. As we follow the series and, consequently, follow Blair Waldorf, Serena Vanderwoodsen, Nate Archibald, Chuck Bass, and others through their final years at their Elite private school, the viewer watches as they find themselves in situations few adults would be armed to handle. New York City acts as the playground for the super wealthy and, if anything, forces these adolescents into adulthood that much faster. To place this story line in any other city would not do it justice. New York works in so many ways as just another cast member. With so much activity constantly occurring about the city, you never know who you will see around the corner…or who will be catch you in the act and send the tip into gossip girl, an anonymous blogger who keeps tabs on all her upper east side teens, bringing to light the good, bad, and the ugly. Without the city, we would fail to understand the complexities of each characters psyche. From each characters expansive penthouse or townhome, to their ostentatious school, the amount of money, and the attitude towards it, becomes strikingly clear as the series progresses. In a world where ones parents are continuously off on another vacation or work travels, the teens are left to care for themselves for the most part, aside from their servants and drivers. The city almost forces an adult perception of these teens who are constantly in conflict over what the upper east side society expects and what they desire. The class and sophistication associated with New York City only works to underscore this. Just like the city, the series’ character’s are constantly evolving, growing up, and moving forward with their ever changing lives. New York City and the Upper East Side are, in many respects, who these characters are; It defines what they do, how they live, and the actions they take.

“You Know you Love Me”   XOXO

-gossip girl